Monday, January 5, 2015

Assunpink 1/5--Trumpeter Swan, American Tree Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, more...

Trumpeter Swans, Assunpink Lake
I had three goals today, two of which I accomplished. The first was to add the Assunpink Trumpeter Swans to my year list and that wasn't as easy as I had anticipated, but it did help fulfill my 2nd goal, which was to take a long walk before the oncoming frigid weather keeps me indoors for 2 or 3 days. (Have I mentioned I hate winter?)

I first stopped on the road into Assunpink by the farm driveway where White-crowned Sparrows are always reliable and indeed, three were on the ground between the fences. Driving on, sparrows were diving into the the brush--the only one that stayed in sight long enough for me to get a look at was an American Tree Sparrow, a dapper little bird.

I was hoping that the swans would be at the eastern end of the lake, near where I park by the model airplane field. That way I wouldn't have to carry my scope on my walk. They were at the first turnoff, or the 2nd or at any of the paths down to the lake. Mute Swans kept getting my hopes up. I walked the length of the lake without seeing the swans and when I hit the paved road I decided to scan the western, wider area of the lake. Two more Mute Swans got my attention for a moment, and there was a smattering of Ruddy Ducks on the lake, but nothing else. The air temperature was in the mid-30's; so were the wind gusts. (Have I mentioned I hate wind?)

So instead of completing the loop by walking up the road to where my car was parked, I reversed course and walked back along the lake. Again, the Mute Swans fooled me a couple of times, but then, at the mid-way point, I saw three swans and knew I had the Trumpeters--there's something about their posture that gives them away. I was happy to find them and reminded myself that persistence sometimes pays. (And other times, you just feel like a stubborn fool.)

My third goal was unmet. I drove over to Prospertown Lake, hoping to get Common Merganser, not an easy Ocean County bird, onto the list. They're often there, but not today. There were no ducks on the lake. There were no birds in the tree. The temperature was dropping. I drove home.

I added a couple of birds today that really should have been on the list from day one, but somehow they waited until today to show up in my sights.

19 species
Mute Swan  7
Trumpeter Swan  3     "V" shaped join at bill and forehead, huge Canvasback-like bills. No knobs. 
Ruddy Duck  16
Turkey Vulture  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker
 1     Heard
Downy Woodpecker  1     Heard
Northern Flicker  1
American Crow  3
Carolina Chickadee  3
Tufted Titmouse  1
Northern Mockingbird  1
European Starling  200
American Tree Sparrow  2

Song Sparrow  1     Heard
White-throated Sparrow  3
White-crowned Sparrow  3

Common Grackle  2
American Goldfinch  2     Heard

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